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Finding Your Tribe

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Finding Your Tribe

By Annabele Grace

I mom-stalked my friend Natalie and made her be my friend. I was about 9 months into new motherhood, and it was dark and lonely times. My social circle had dwindled to just the beings that lived in my 800 sq. foot cabin. After one difficult and tearful morning, I set out for a walk with the stroller and at the river’s edge I saw Natalie and her three kids - two under the age of five and one still snuggled in his infant seat. I watched her laugh with her kids. And I thought she must have something figured out that I don’t. I wanted to say, “Please tell me how to do this.” But instead I swallowed, gave a wave and walked on. After that day I became determined to find out where she lived. There weren’t many young families in our neighborhood. Early motherhood can be isolating and even more so in a rural area. After days of only a baby to talk to there is an urge to call out to any mom with a baby across the Safeway parking lot: “hey, you are doing it too, we should get together and talk about all the things no one else in our lives really understands!” 

I started noticing what time of day my friend-to-be was out walking and I timed my walks with hers. Eventually I approached and introduced myself. She has truly become the great friend I needed. We’ve watched each other’s kids, shared apples, homemade goods and eggs. I have called her when I had a feverish baby plastered to my chest and she’s dropped off Tylenol. Even when life gets crazy and we go weeks without seeing one another, it’s comforting to know she is just a couple of streets over. As it turns out, she hasn’t any secret formula. We are all kind of hanging on for the ride. But somehow it makes all the difference to know that we are not alone.

My son is now three years old. Earlier this year, one of my close friends, Shannon Rogge, and I launched a support group and online community for moms in the West Sonoma County area, “River Mamas Connect”. Shannon is a licensed MFT and a mom. The group’s mission is to create a supportive space for moms to connect with one another and with resources within the community and to provide a safe platform for authentic discussion about the experience of new motherhood with emphasis on empowerment, compassion, humor and peer support. In 2015 we held a weekly support group with discussion topics ranging from Traveling with Kids to Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Its been a place to share our “genius” moments and laugh and commiserate with our less shining ones, vent, trade tips for sleep and teething and remind each other to make self-care a priority. Shannon and I also try and connect moms with resources in the community such as food give-aways, workshops, carseat fittings and more. Most of all we simply hold space for one another’s unique experience and feel less alone.

First time mamas-to-be often want to know, what are the most important items necessities for a new baby? My answer is: find your tribe. Identify your support network, start connecting with other moms who are a little further ahead of you. The kind you can text when you’re in the throes. The kind who will come over and hold your baby while you take the first shower you’ve had in a week. The kind who will laugh with you, bring levity to hard days and send courage to see you through long nights. The kind you can talk to about the hard stuff. Everything else you’ll gather along the way. We are stronger when we remember that there are other moms out there too, elbow-deep in the work of mothering and that we have each other’s back. For better or worse, we are all in this togethers.

To find out more about River Mamas Connect monthly park meet-ups, potlucks and other events please our website: rivermamasconnect.com, join our Facebook community: search “River Mamas Connect” or email rivermamasconnect@gmail.com